Peter Robinson, who last week took charge of the coalition Northern Ireland Executive, has said that he is committed to his legal obligations to fight discrimination.

He was responding to the controversy sparked by his wife, who is also an MP and member of the Assembly for Strangford, last week.

On Radio Ulster last Friday Iris Robinson claimed that a psychiatrist practising in the province can “cure” people of homosexuality, which she described as an vile, wicked and an abomination.

She is now the subject of a police investigation into whether she breached hate crimes legislation.

Sinn Fein, who are in coalition with Mr Robinson’s DUP, have condemned Mrs Robinson and said she is unfit to chair the Assembly health committee.

Speaking at Assembly Question Time, Mr Robinson said: “There is a legal obligation to ensure that no-one in our society is discriminated against.

“I have to say that even if there was no legal obligation I would be at the forefront defending anyone who was being discriminated against.

“And I know my colleague the member for Strangford would be alongside me in that.”

The Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister is tasked with ensuring equality for gay people in Northern Ireland.